IRIN, Aug. 28, 2002
LAGOS, 28 Aug 2002 (IRIN) – A man sentenced to death by stoning for the rape of a nine-year old girl in Nigeria’s northern Jigawa State may be the first to be so executed under the Islamic Shari’ah law in Nigeria after he refused to appeal against the sentence, officials said on Tuesday.
Ado Baranda, 54, was convicted in May by a court in Jigawa and failed to challenge the conviction within the 30-day period he had to file an appeal. A senior aide to Jigawa State governor, Ibrahim Turaki, said on Tuesday that the state government did not intend to interfere with execution of the judgement.
“The sentence is that of the Shari’ah court and without an appeal, there’s nothing the governor can do,” the aide, Usman Dutse, told reporters. He could not say, however, when the sentence might be carried out.
Baranda’s case has attracted less local and international condemnation than that of 30-year-old Amina Lawal, whose sentence for adultery – after she had a baby out of wedlock – was upheld by a Shari’ah appeal court in Katsina State last week.
Lawal was the second woman to be sentenced to death by stoning since a dozen states in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north introduced the Shari’ah legal code over the past two and a half years. The first, Safiya Husseini Tunga-Tudu, was acquitted by an appeal court in March.
Another man, Yunusa Chiyawa, was sentenced to death by stoning in Bauchi State in late June for eloping with the wife of his friend and having sex with her. The woman was acquitted after the presiding judge accepted her claim that Chiyawa had put a spell on her.
The only death sentence carried out so far in Nigeria under Shari’ah law was the hanging in Katsina in January of a man, Sani Rodi, for killing a woman and her two children.
The introduction of strict Islamic law has sharply divided multi-ethnic Nigeria’s 120 million population along religious lines, reinforcing mutual suspicion between the largely Christian or animist south and the mainly Muslim north.
The government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, a southern Christian, has condemned harsh punishments meted out under Shari’ah law as unconstitutional.
However, he has so far avoided enforcing his position or seeking Supreme Court intervention, as demanded by some of his critics, ostensibly in order to avoid aggravating already frayed relations between religious communities.
More than 2,000 people died in clashes between Christians and Muslims in the northern state of Kaduna in early 2000 over plans by the state authorities to introduce Shari’ah law. An additional 300 lives were lost in reprisal attacks against Muslim northerners in parts of Nigeria’s southeast.